1 What's your company called?
2 What do you publish?
We publish and distribute local interest books for Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset. From Easter 2019 we will also publish books on Yorkshire. Our range is both historic and contemporary in nature and covers topics including railways, smuggling, mining, heritage, walking, cooking, place names, supernatural, archaeology, maritime, the natural world… in fact, just about everything you can imagine!
3 What's the story of the company?
The company was originally founded in the 1960s as Bradford Barton, though it had been in existence in one form or other for about ten years before that. Based in Truro at the time, Bradford Barton specialised in railway picture books, producing a huge range of titles in the 1960s and 70s and eventually branching out into other forms of transport including busses and aeroplanes.
Tor Mark came into existence either as an imprint or as the ‘parent’ company of Bradford Barton. In 1987 our family (Heather and Ivan Corbett) bought the list of what was then approximately 30 titles. Their son, Daniel, joined in 1993, and since then the business has grown to include more than 100 titles on Cornwall alone in print at any one time, with another 200 or so in the archive.
Tor Mark consists of its own imprint and others including Alison Hodge Publishing, Orchard Books and Truran. These were all successful publishing houses in their own right that have become part of the Tor Mark family.
Five years ago, Tor Mark saw the introduction of Daniel’s wife Anna into the business, and the retirement of Heather and Ivan. Daniel and Anna’s girls Isabelle and Charlotte have also started to take an interest in where their parents spend so much time!
4 How’s business?
Very exciting, thank you! This year saw the sale of our first international rights, with others planned for the next 12 months or so. We are also developing a new series of imprints capturing different aspects of the business. Our Gold Leaf imprint has proved hugely popular and our forthcoming Choughins children’s series is really exciting to work on. This latter will bring together our children’s activity books into one ‘family’ and allow us to develop the range into fiction books for younger readers.
5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
Being able to do our own thing and express ourselves in a way we feel works for us and our customers. Books of local interest are continuing to prove really popular, and we are so excited that as an independent publisher we can respond to our markets within a relatively short time frame. We can also dream up mad ideas and bring them to fruition, which is tremendous fun.
6 What do you think is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
For us it is the commitment of large organisations and charities to supporting local markets and products. Our research suggests customers like to see a range of innovative and exciting—and different—local product in the places they visit. We all like to be inspired when we shop, and visiting heritage and tourist destinations is no different. Seeing a range of unique products encourages people to purchase, which is why we have such a huge range of titles for the local area in print at any one time.
7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
Everyone’s experience is different, but the one thing we do find incredibly useful is talking with our customers and colleagues.
8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
We’re hoping to meet other businesses like ourselves and hear about their experiences—their successes and the things they’ve learnt along the way—and see how we might all work together to continue the legacy of local publishing.